By Charlie Morasch, Land Line staff writer
A charity for truckers that helps drivers obtain medical treatment at reduced prices saw a banner year in 2010, helping more trucking families than ever before.
Challenges remain, but St. Christopher Fund leaders say a goal of obtaining more corporate donations and sponsorships could help springboard the fund to an even bigger presence in the future.
Donna Kennedy is executive director of the Knoxville, TN-based St. Christopher Truckers Development and Relief Fund. She indicated that the fund helped nearly 150 families by late December, with another 97 applications nearly processed and approved.
Donations totaled $303,777, up from $40,404 in 2009. The largest part of the increase came after TravelCenters of America and Petro Stopping Centers combined for a fundraiser specifically for the St. Christopher Fund.
“The first part of the year was tough; the $10,000 from OOIDA really bailed us out,” said Dr. John McElligott, a physician for many truckers who helped found the St. Christopher Fund.
Fundraising and awareness about the lack of affordable healthcare available to truckers was boosted by Jasmine “Jazzy” Jordan’s run across America, and coverage of the run in Land Line Magazine, on Land Line Now and on the Dave Nemo show on Sirius-XM satellite radio.
Jordan, the daughter of OOIDA Members Lee Jordan and Paulette Jordan, started running in Los Angeles in late 2009 to raise awareness for the St. Christopher Fund. She completed her run in New York City in June 2010.
McElligott, known to the trucking industry as Dr. John, also helped treat Jazzy as the 17-year-old battled injuries while completing the mammoth 3,161 mile run across America. He said the attention that Jazzy brought to drivers’ health and the St. Christopher Fund raised at least tens of thousands of dollars during a time when the fund was struggling.
“She helped save a lot of lives, that’s for sure,” Dr. John said. “The more you have, the more you can do.”
As Jazzy helped raise the St. Christopher Fund’s profile in national and local television and newspaper interviews, the fund’s continued success helped establish credibility and open doors to new opportunities.
In October, TravelCenters of America and Petro Stopping Centers raised $211,115 for the St. Christopher Fund by selling wristbands for $1 each. All the proceeds from the “Band Together” effort were given to the fund.
In the future, the St. Christopher Fund wants to expand its resources and work to improve health research and screenings for drivers, Kennedy said.
“We want to help prevent some of the health problems that drivers encounter instead of solely helping them after a medical crisis has occurred,” Kennedy said. “We hope to become a household name that drivers and companies associate with health, wellness and support.”
Dr. John said exposure for the fund also has been boosted by the MeRV, a medical resource vehicle sponsored by the St. Christopher Fund. A recreational vehicle equipped with many health screening tools, the MeRV is driven by OOIDA Senior Member Jon Osburn, a veteran emergency medic.
In 2011, Dr. John said, the St. Christopher Fund wants to partner with other nonprofit entities at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, KY, to continue to raise awareness about driver health care needs.
Thousands of drivers have contributed to the fund Kennedy said, and the fund hopes more corporate donations and sponsorships will allow the fund to serve more trucking families.
“Drivers are doing their part,” Kennedy said. “With annual contributions from committed corporations, we could take the SCF to a new level.”
As the fund has grown, so has the need for many trucking families, Kennedy and Dr. John both agreed.
“The sad part of it is the increasing number of truckers who are just having catastrophic problems – everything from dying of cancer, and being homeless and so forth, to medical issues,” Dr. John said. “We’re starting to get requests to help sell patients’ trucks.
“But I think down the road we’ll get better awareness of the healthcare needs of this profession,” he said.
Donations can be made to the St. Christopher Fund, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit by mailing a check to:
The St. Christopher Truckers Development and Relief Fund
P.O. Box 30763, Knoxville, TN 37930.
Donations can also be made over the phone by calling 877-332-GIVE (4483), or online at the fund’s website.
Copyright © 2010 OOIDA